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Bad Tree Pruning

Bad Tree Pruning Kills Trees!

There are few things more frustrating for an Arborist  than to see a tree in decline because of bad pruning. While pruning is important for tree health and safety, it can lead to devastating consequences when the job is put in the wrong hands. Without proper knowledge and training, improper cuts can permanently damage and even kill an otherwise healthy tree! Read on to learn about the types of bad pruning; what can result from poor pruning techniques; and, how to avoid disaster with your trees.

Over Pruning

It may be tempting to prune a lot of branches off your trees in an attempt to do a thorough cleanout. But it’s important to understand the purpose of all those leaves and branches!

“Leaves are food-producing solar panels for your trees!” explains ISA Certified Giroud Arborist, Mike Chenail. “Overpruning takes away too many of the leaves whose job it is to convert sunlight into energy. Your tree needs that energy grow healthy and strong.”


Recently, on a routine property inspection, ISA Certified Giroud Arborist and Vice President Drew Slousky noticed that one homeowner’s Cherry tree had developed a severe case of sunscald. Sadly, for this tree, there’s not much hope left to save it. Check out the video to hear Drew explain how an inexperienced tree service did irreparable damage to this once healthy Cherry tree.



Sunscald typically happens during the late winter and early spring months when the temperature fluctuates between warm and cold. As the tree warms up with the help of direct sunlight, the cells within the tree come out of dormancy.  When the temperatures drop again, those now fully functioning cells can freeze over and die. However, in the case of this Cherry tree, the inexperienced tree company had topped the tree in the heat of summer and taken away its ability to shade itself.   No different than a human, direct sun exposure gave this tree such as severe sunburn that it began to decline.  Months later, it is almost dead.

Bad tree pruningTree Topping

Homeowners sometimes ask us to“top” their trees in order to reduce the height. Tree topping is not only an ugly practice, it’s incredibly harmful for your trees! Topping removes vital, healthy branches. The tree goes into shock and starts to sprout many small, weak branches. The Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA) draws a hard line against topping practices, explaining that “Topping is not a standard practice, and in fact is “outlawed” by national tree care standards. Topping has always been controversial. If someone tells you they have always done it that way, it’s a good bet they aren’t up to speed with the latest, scientific tree care methods.” 

Tree Pruning at the Wrong Time

Pruning can be done almost year-round, but there are small windows of time when it’s a really bad idea. Some trees are hearty enough to withstand a good cleanup in all kinds of weather, while other species are more delicate and should only be pruned in mild temperatures. It’s rare that an ISA Certified Arborist will recommend pruning during the hottest time of the summer. However, there are instances, such as when trees are damaged in a storm, when pruning is the only way to attempt to save the life of the tree.

bad tree pruningReasons for Tree Pruning Services

The experts at Giroud may recommend pruning your trees for the following reasons:

  • Safety Tree Pruning: Thins the crown to reduce wind resistance and weight of top heavy limbs and removes dead, rotted and weakly attached limbs.
  • Tree View Pruning: Improve your landscape views by elevating and shaping trees around pools, patios, drives, walkways and gardens.
  • Reduce Debris: Prune trees that drop fruit, nuts or other debris onto key areas on your property such as the pool area, roof, driveway and, patio.
  • Tree Pruning for Health: Prune out weak, dead and diseased limbs and establish a healthy growth pattern by promoting a dominant leader and selectively removing crossed branches.
  • Cut-off Wildlife Access: Prune trees away from house to avoid access by squirrels and other wildlife to rooftops and attics.
  • Tree Raising-Elevation: Allow more daylight to reach understory plants and lawn by pruning and removing lower limbs.

How to Avoid Disaster from Poor Pruning

If your trees need pruning, it’s important to vet the tree service company you are considering for the job. Here are some important things to ask before choosing a tree pruning professional:

Think Before You Plant

Considering planting a new tree? Consult with a Certified Arborist before you add to your landscape! They should evaluate the area and look for obstacles, such as buildings and overhead wires, that may get in the way as the tree matures fully. Your arborist will make recommendations for the best kind of tree to plant, thus helping you to avoid pruning problems in the future!

Need to Have Your Trees Pruned?

Giroud’s ISA Certified Arborists have a wealth of experience and training to properly prune all species of trees! 

Call 215-682-7704 today to schedule a FREE Inspection for your trees! 


Author: Jeanne Hafner

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